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Farming Minister gives evidence on agricultural resilience to Committee

9 February 2016

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee continues its inquiry into price volatility and agricultural resilience by taking evidence from the Government. In the second session, the Committee will question the Chief Economist of the US Department of Agriculture.


Wednesday 10 February in Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster

First panel

At 11.00am

  • George Eustice MP, Minister for Farming, Food and Marine Environment, DEFRA
  • Ian Mitchell, Deputy Director for International and Strategy Analysis, DEFRA
  • Tim Mordan, Deputy Director, Farming Productivity, DEFRA

Likely questions

  • Is the UK Government concerned about agricultural price volatility and recent periods of low commodity prices?
  • Is the UK Government planning to make use of the joint initiative between the European Investment Bank and the European Commission's DG AGRI to allow farmers greater access to cheaper loans and Financial Instruments through EU Member States' Rural Development Programmes?
  • Does the UK Government support the development of Financial Instruments, such as forward contracts and options, which farmers can use to manage risk?
  • The Environment Secretary has announced the UK Government's plans to publish a 25 year plan for British food and farming. What details will it include on enhancing agricultural resilience?
  • If public income and revenue insurance schemes were to be used in the EU, what sort of risks should they cover?
  • The Committee is aware of the risk management toolkit contained within the CAP. Why has England, and the rest of the UK, chosen not to make use of the risk management toolkit?
  • What is the UK Government's view of Direct Payments under Pillar I of the CAP?
  • Should the UK Government be encouraging farmers who cannot cope with price volatility to leave the sector?
  • Knowledge transfer and the provision of advice to farmers differ across the UK's devolved administrations.  Are some systems more cost effective than others?
  • What changes would the UK Government like to see in the next round of CAP reform?

Second panel

At 12 noon (via videoconference)

  • Robert Johansson, Chief Economist, United States Department of Agriculture

Likely questions

  • Are there concerns about the recent trends in agricultural price volatility? Is the situation worsening?
  • What are the main policy instruments and public funding available for farmers to help them cope with price volatility and enhance the resilience of their agricultural operations?
  • What role does income support through direct payments to farmers play? Is it a useful tool to manage risk?
  • To what extent are these insurance programmes publically or privately funded and what do they cover?
  • What are the pros and cons of publically-funded insurance schemes?
  • Are institutional arrangements and differing landscapes a barrier to the EU learning from the US agricultural model?

Further Information

Image: iStockphoto